The paradox of choice and missed opportunity

Watch new guests walk into your restaurant and stare at the menu. Do they scan quickly and nod or do they drift across the options, mouth dropping open?

In 2004, Barry Schwartz wrote Paradox of Choice, in which he proves that more options can actually reduce the quality of the customer experience (which was not yet a buzzword). This theory explains the growth of fast casual restaurants. The concepts are simple to understand, the menu is void of the clutter that QSR and casual dining brands have added over the years to keep up.

While choices are necessary to fight the veto, too much choice confuses guests and weakens their understanding of the concept. As Zac Painter, VP of Marketing at Fatz Cafe told F&RM, during the great recession the brand had added a Chinese chicken salad to its menu of home cooked southern classics. The item has since been removed from the menu.

Options like these create confusion for the guest. It’s why Chick Fil A and In-N-Out Burger continue to succeed. Customers know what they come in for, and the brand doesn’t make them search to hard for it.

choice, veto, menu
Four food items, three of which are hamburgers. How’s that for choice?

That’s not to say that every brand should restrict choice to less than ten items. But a key point here is that brands like these offer streamlined menus, and execute on every item. Can you even imagine the wait at In-N-Out if they added more items?

Look at the top growth brands and you’ll see that they all have simple menus in common. Chicken brands like Zaxby’s and Raising Cane’s keep the menu options tight and reap the benefit. Guests crave chicken, they go to a place that executes what they have on their mind.

When guests order from a busy menu they aren’t thinking very logically about making the optimal selection. That’s just not how we’re wired. Instead, in an environment scattered with choice, they simply try to meet the requirement of the task – choose something.

Being overwhelmed by choice can leave people feeling lonely and even depressed, according to Barry Schwartz. Not exactly the aim of hospitality. People are looking to choose but don’t know how to make the choice.

But this harried execution of selection leads to a state that Schwartz calls ‘missed opportunity.’ This happens when they realize they chose something they didn’t really want, or later find a selection they believe would have been more satisfying. This also creates a bad brand experience because they feel that they ‘ordered the wrong thing.’

Of course brands like The Cheesecake Factory deliver on a menu as thick as a phone book every day. There will always be exceptions to any rule. For whatever reason, that brand has driven loyalty by offering tons of choice – even on the dessert menu. This is because, like Chick Fil A and Raising Cane’s, they execute every time.

It is hard to make the wrong choice. But most restaurants are not The Cheesecake Factory. To simplify on execution, simplify the menu. As a brand, there shouldn’t be a wrong thing to be ordered. There shouldn’t be that Chinese chicken salad.

Food trends and brand optimization

Spend some time looking through the time capsule of January’s food trends listicles and something interesting pops up quickly. Most of these food trends don’t apply to your brand. I can write that with confidence despite not knowing for sure which brand you’re from. The problem with endless choice and (endless content for that matter) is that people can chase down niche interests; and each niche interest can become a trend.

Items on your menu should be built to generate interest, for sure. But it’s also important that brands stay in their lane. If your brand is build on fresh, stir-fried flavors, a hamburger might be an awkward addition. Seems easy until burgers show up on a list of top food trends. When we see the burger place next store doing well, we want to add something to our menu to get in on the trend, avoid the veto and compete with the leaders.

What can happen over time is the endless addition of items that build to a trend, but stretch the brand beyond normal range. Especially for brands coming from lower sales, the temptation to add trendy items is huge. But a focus on the core is critical for brands hoping to turn it around.

Inside food trends

Instead of adding items from the latest pile of food trends, understand the reason that each trend is catching on and build an item to capitalize on the ‘why.’ Kombucha and brain stimulants aren’t right for most mass brands, but the trend is about consumers maximizing perceived benefits from their food. Find ways to highlight ingredients that have a positive effect. This might be as simple as Chick-Fil-A’s recent addition of kale salad in place of the higher calorie cole slaw.

Take what works from the trend and apply it to your core customer. Despite the press that a lot of food trends get, most are so niche that there isn’t an audience that will change traffic. But incorporating an element into your menu can earn credit with those aware of the trend.

Improve core items

Sticking with the craveable core items of your brand forces your team to work to make each item as great as it can be. Ever been to a diner? They have a menu 20 pages long and a two-star Yelp! review because they keep adding items but don’t do any of them particularly well. Spend the time to make your menu unique within your category. If the trend is charcuterie, that might be a signal to focus on the cuts of meat on the menu. Look at what Arby’s is doing with their menu.

The goal is to take what the brand is best at and optimize it. For every wild new item added, there is distraction added to the operations which can slow down the kitchen and lead to service lapses.

Just say no

Discipline is easy when things are going well. If it’s not clear how a trend fits with your concept, walk away. Allow the independent shop down the street experiment with fermentation. If your core customer isn’t begging for it, or leaving you to get it elsewhere, be brave enough to pass.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of food trends. They tend to get the short-term attention. The key is to ensure that your brand is incorporating the parts of the food trends that work for your brand – and your guests.

Transcript of Food & Restaurant Podcast – Is your brand ready for a mobile app?

Transcript of Food & Restaurant Marketing Podcast – Episode: Is your brand ready for a mobile app?

Read these companion articles, too: The Pros. The Cons.

[00:00:04] Adam Pierno: Okay, welcome back to another episode of Food and Restaurant marketing. We’re so excited to be back. Let me tell you why. We’re doing something real fun and a little different than what we have done in the past. We have done an editorial food guest on mobile apps. We’ve had some brands that we’ve been talking to that told us “Hey we needed this. This is something we needed or this is something we want.” We’ve started digging in and giving them recommendations on whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea, guess what? It all depends right?


[00:00:40] Daniel Santy: It all depends.

[00:00:42] Adam: With me, as ever you just heard him is Dan Santy.

[00:00:46] Dan: Good morning, afternoon or evening.

[00:00:50] Adam: As you know, as time shifted so they listen when they goddamn want to. We don’t control that.

[00:00:56] Dan: That’s right.

[00:00:57] Adam: But they’re probably listening on a mobile device, in all likelihood. That’s the topic of the day. We’ve written a couple of posts on One in the positive, the affirmative argument. The pros of having a mobile app and when you should want to do that. Then one, the argument against. When is it the wrong time to do or why wouldn’t you need to do it? That’s what we kind of want to talk about today. That’s what Dan and I’ve been kicking around here for a while. We’re excited to debate it and duke it out today and talk through it.

[00:01:35] Dan: In spirit of full disclosure, Mr. Pierno is the author of both of those articles. I’d like to take a little bit of credit for having drafted some of that content, but Mr. Pierno did, based on conversations we’ve had. The debate’s been lively because we’re talking to a lot of our consulting clients and they’re asking this question. This is truly the question. Clearly everything’s moving to mobile. Not moving, is mobile. What’s happening right now Adam, website traffic on many of our clients’ sites 70, 80% mobile.

[00:02:16] Adam: Yes. It’s interesting. Back in 2010, we started to notice a trend of increased mobile access. If you’re looking at the sources, if you look at the devices coming to the sites, or the m. version of the site that were being accessed. We started to notice, it’s 10% then the next year it’s 20%. What we started to realize was at that time in 2011, we saw year over year a 10% increase in visits or a percentage of visits were from a mobile device. Now, even on transactional behavior, it’s 70-80%.

Everybody’s using their mobile. That’s a little deceptive because you think mobile and I’m holding my iPhone but it could be a tablet. Technically, the way analytics and most analytics platforms work is those things are counted as a mobile device and they’re not a desktop which is now a laptop. They are mobile devices. They receive the web differently, people have a different set of attention when they use those. People’s expectations depending on a device are so different.

If I come on a laptop, I want one set of things and I expect a certain set of options. If I come on my phone, I’d probably, most likely I’m at the office or I’m in a car, or I’m somewhere on the go and I need a quick answer. If I’m on a tablet, I’m looking for some other intermediary set of options. Do you agree?

[00:03:48] Dan: 100%, it’s so funny because my wife constantly says to me, “How can you read your email?” How can you do whatever it is I’m doing. I read the New York times on that. I go to my email. Obviously a whole host of things. It’s so second nature today. It’s second nature and the convenience of it is ridiculous. If my laptop is in my briefcase, in my bedroom. I’m out in the kitchen having a cup of coffee, I’m like I’m on my old device-

[00:04:26] Adam: You’re not a tablet guy?

[00:04:28] Dan: No, I was early on. I had an iPad. That actually had cascaded to my wife and she still has that device today and still uses it.

[00:04:38] Adam: Yes. My wife uses one too. I’m either at laptop or phone.

[00:04:42] Dan: But you know what’s interesting about the word mobile today is if you watch what happens in the office, people are mobile with their laptops because of WiFi. I watch three, four, five, six seven, well, 30 people wander around because they’re going to meetings in small conference rooms, large conference rooms, wherever they’re going to work with somebody in a different-

[00:05:09] Adam: The laptop is open while they’re walking, they’re pretty much typing or doing a Hangout while they’re walking.

[00:05:15] Dan: It’s crazy. It’s absolutely crazy. Mobile is here. Unless you’re on a — please don’t be offended, a PC. You can’t do-

[00:05:27] Adam: We have a couple of PCs out there right outside my door, there’s a couple of people on PCs. We have been testing a lot of software for brands. The whole Mac or PC thing is, a lot of that’s been resolved by web-based software. They’re so a little con-care and a little more prone to getting viruses but otherwise, it’s caught up. It’s pretty even.

[00:05:53] Dan: I’m not going to hate on that. I’m not going to do it.

[00:05:55] Adam: You make a fantastic point. No matter what device you’re accessing from, you are mobile now. Everything is mobile now. Now the onus is on the brand. Hypothetically, let’s just make up a brand for this. Maybe we’ll use it for the whole episode or maybe we’ll just use it for this part of the conversation–

[00:06:14] Dan: Suzy Wednesday? Should we call it Suzy Wednesday?

[00:06:16] Adam: Suzy Wednesday, that’s a great example. Let’s say I have with that, in that case, 250 locations, let’s call them super regional just for the point of argument. Everybody who wants to see more about Suzy Wednesday, my brand, has a mobile state of mind. Even if I’m at my best, and let’s say I have a real desktop computer, I still want to know quickly, menu. I want an HTML menu. I don’t want a PDF.

[00:06:46] Dan: Location.

[00:06:48] Adam: Location number one. How far is it from here? Can I click an order? I want everything. I want access to it. I want to be able to do it. I want it on my terms. Now, that sounds great if you’re listening to this on your mobile device you’re saying “Well, I just downloaded this podcast and that’s how I expect it to be, great.” If you are the marketing or the technology officer at Suzy Wednesdays, you have a mess in your pants because you’re figuring out “How am I going to deliver that experience across devices?”

There’s a lot of great things about mobile apps but from a brand perspective, it’s an unholy nightmare. It’s got a tie in with your POS. It’s got a tie in with your traffic patterns. When you unleash that thing on the world, you actually have no idea. The walk-in traffic experience for a brand where we talked to of the store where they will tell us.

Well at this time of day, this time of year, this is what I expect. 220 tickets that day. They know it very well. Unleash the mobile app, it throws everything out of whack. Who the hell knows who’s going to come in at that point through the app.

[00:08:00] Dan: Well, if you go all the way back to what you were just talking about at the beginning, that is tying into the POS.

[00:08:11] Adam: It’s critical. What we’ve seen, in the complexity because there’s so many vendors involved in that environment. You and I as a consumer, or any general consumer out there, we pull something up on our app. If it’s not seamless into the POS, it gets crazy and then we lose the analytics, we’re spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to figure it out with a variety of different vendors because there’s so many different vendors out there providing the service.

How many of our clients have had these fits and starts? This looks like the perfect solution. When you try to do the connection, the connection is janky or can’t be done, it’s going to cost whatever to make it get that.

[00:09:07] Adam: Yes. This day, we were talking about a brand that had invested with a software service. They had the SAS. They were a pilot. They were in on the ground floors. Great value on that. Software service came and said, “You know what? We’ve looked at it in our business model. We don’t like it. We’re pulling out of this. We’re going to close this business. We’re not going to support this anymore.” Holy Moly, that just threw their plan, their five year plan just gone to garbage.

[00:09:35] Dan: By the way, you know that SAS was talking about bailing from that for months.

[00:09:45] Adam: That’s a different thing.

[00:09:47] Dan: They had a huge opportunity to say, “Hey, we’re starting to question this.” Of course, don’t worry about revenue. I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole. Everybody gets that.

[00:10:01] Adam: [crosstalk]

[00:10:02] Dan: Go ahead.

[00:10:02] Adam: No, you go ahead.

[00:10:04] Dan: Clearly, the online ordering functionality is really taking off.

[00:10:11] Adam: And people love it. They’ve been trained in it. They’re used to it. It’s easier than talking to somebody, you could get your order wrong.

[00:10:20] Dan: Or texting we don’t– fundamentally, we don’t want to talk to anybody. Especially– no slams to the workers but if I can use an online ordering function tool or whatever it is and not have to talk to the 18-year old minimum wage worker at the fast-casual, I’m in. I’m totally in.

[00:10:45] Adam: I’m going to give you one better. Flip it to that person’s side, okay? I’m with you and I have the tendency to say like “That person is messing it up.” Or, “How many times have I gotten home and realize that they’ve forgot XYZ.” but flip it from your side or from an operator’s side, it’s loud in Taco Bell. It’s loud in the pizza place. That poor person who uses that GD phone is– they can’t hear you and they’re trying their best and there’s someone staying at the underway for money out and the guy behind them is saying, “Coming through, hot, hot, hot.”

[00:11:20] Dan: Good point. You know what? You’re so empathetic. I’m a little surprised.

[00:11:25] Adam: Empathy is my specialty. If you’re listening to this, you should know. I have no empathy.

[00:11:30] Dan: I just want everybody to know that you just witnessed an amazing empathetic moment.

[00:11:38] Adam: [laughs] [crosstalk] No, I have worked in the restaurant industry. I have been a server and a bus boy and I’ve made pizzas and I’ve worked on that side of the counter so I know. It’s not easy to get it right 100% of the time and they get it right more than we think because we as customers we tend to focus on the negatives but the online order is a huge, absolutely huge thing.

[00:12:02] Dan: Huge. On the flip side, really important point about online ordering in my opinion is– and this is what emerging brands and evolving brands need to understand. Domino’s has created an environment that has set a standard that all other brands will now be held to. That is a critical thing. We do all these conversation of, should we, shouldn’t we and let’s say we are on the should path so the brand decides, we’re going down that path with them and you’d better hold yourself up to that standard.

And that’s where it becomes really complicated because Domino’s went all in on technology and is not letting up. That’s a big deal that people need to understand.

[00:13:05] Adam: It’s funny that you said that, you jumped ahead a little bit–

[00:13:10] Dan: I’m sorry.

[00:13:11] Adam: No, don’t apologize. I love it, let’s just talk, the outline is our guide. We own this outline. You use the word technology when it comes to Domino’s but I think the word is innovation. Earlier today, day and night ate at the restaurant and it actually had the word innovation on the menu which appalled us both. I mean in a description of a meal but–

[00:13:36] Dan: The salad–

[00:13:38] Adam: [sigh] It was not innovative but Domino’s app is legitimately time after time after time after time innovative, legitimately. And so if– you’re dead on, yes, it’s such a good point. If you are– what if you call it, Suzy Wednesdays?

[00:13:55] Dan: [laughs] Suzy Wednesdays.

[00:13:56] Adam: And you want to make an app and you want to go with Relevant Media’s white label product, it’s a great product. [unintelligible 00:14:05] does a great job of keeping something off the shelf. It doesn’t compete with Domino’s and you’re right customers, this is what we deal with grants and when we do research into consumer groups. They don’t give a tear about what category you are in and how much you spend and how many units you have. They say, “Well, Domino’s crushes it.” Chick-fil-A, absolutely has a sick app and I get a reward every other time I go with Whatsapp.

Starbucks I can order in my car, in my garage and it’s ready for me when I get there. The expectations have been set and now, your app is not just your app, is the entire experience because that’s what’s been trained into them.

[00:14:49] Dan: Adam, I think we’re on to a very interesting phenomenon that I don’t hear talked about enough in the strategic sessions we’re having with our clients. And that is, it’s not, should we, shouldn’t we. Are we prepared to make the investment to be at a level that customer will go, “You know what? Hey, this is really amazing, what this brand has done.”? Because it’s an evolving brand or it’s a– maybe it’s even a Suzy Wednesday that’s you’ve been suffering but they’re trying to catch up.

You can’t cheap out on this. There’s no short cut. There’s no way to fake– you can’t fake this.

[00:15:44] Adam: No. And especially with the– you’ve just sprung so many ideas in my mind but number one, with– I hate to say the M word but millennials and the younger generations coming up, digital natives whatever you call them. I’m a gen-X’er and I consider myself a digital native. Listen, my expectation is flawless execution. If you’re at Suzy Wednesdays and you’ve got– what did I say, 250 locations, I don’t care. If you give me the chance to use an app and it sucks, you suck.

[00:16:16] Dan: Well, because by the way, your dad or your mom or your mom and dad might say, “Adam, let’s go to Suzy Wednesday.” Because they like going there. You’re immediately going on to check these guys out and you’re like, “Wah, wah, this is disappointing.” And probably saying, “Hey, mom and dad? How about– ?” And now you’re redirecting.

[00:16:42] Adam: And we go to Domino’s.


[00:16:49] Adam: No offense, I do like Domino’s, I had nothing against it since they did the reformulation, 10 years ago, good stuff. One thing that apps are amazing at, this is something I’ve noticed as a consumer; the commit spend, I call it. Starbucks, pioneered this. Chick-fil-A does this as well. Look, every app wants me to put my credit card in and get ready to spend with them like through Apple pay or through their own spend, that’s great. It is smart business.

Well, those two brands do better. They want you to make a transaction right there. Put 20 bucks into your account, they don’t want your credit card, they actually want cash paid in. Now, as a consumer– so for Starbucks, I have to put $20 to use the app and then guess what, I’m going to spend it because it’s already committed, I’ve already paid it.

So they’ve got me for those and now it’s up to them to figure out how fast I use it. It’s like a slot machine.

[00:17:46] Dan: Can I tell you something? I hate that whole concept.

[00:17:50] Adam: I downloaded the Chick-fil-A as preparation for this conversation, which– Chick fil A, I love. I downloaded CFA one or whatever it’s called, got halfway into it’s– realized that’s what it was and deleted it. Don’t make me commit my GD money, man. I want to buy $10 dollars at the time. I don’t want to give you $50 now and be on a subscription.

[00:18:11] Dan: Make it an option or make it an opt-out like a 401k, everyone’s opted in unless you tell me you want out.

[00:18:20] Adam: There’s a check box where you say, I don’t prefer this.

[00:18:22] Dan: I don’t want this, yes. [crosstalk]

[00:18:24] Adam: I get the brand side of it. There’s a few brands that have it cached or even request it. And maybe Chick-fil-A is at that level, their loyalty, their traffic. I do love that brand. We go there enough for crying out loud but I don’t want to pay in so I have to think about some of the brands that actually have the gravitas or an app. That’s spin gravitation where I know it’s going to happen. McDonald’s is probably one but they wouldn’t have the sense to do it because they want to keep those small tickets moving. They don’t want people thinking about that.

[00:19:03] Dan: Yes, it’s interesting. Starbucks clearly has that permission because the vast– no, I don’t want to say vast majority but a significant number, their customers obviously are going there three times a week, seven days or whatever, it doesn’t matter, their frequency is sick.

[00:19:21] Adam: And in your mind as a consumer in that, they think “Okay, three bucks, four bucks a top. I’ll put in 50 bucks and that’ll get me through this quarter.” and meanwhile they spend it in three weeks. We’ve talked before on this podcast about how addictive that app is.

The next benefit, I think is loyalty. We’re big believers in one thing; an app is not going to solve your marketing problem. It’s not going to drive traffic. If you just open today and you start an app, the app is not going to drive traffic and fill your store, okay? So stop it, if you’re a new brand or an emerging brand. If you have some traffic, what the app can do is build loyalty, build some extra occasions, and adds a point of view that is grounded in. Data, I mean it’s grounded in facts. A lot of brands come in and say “Hey, we want this because Chik-fil-A and Chipotle and Starbucks have one.” Yes those are great case studies but flawed because your brand is not those brands and I’m not sure everybody who’s listening to this but I’m 99% sure I can say with confidence that your brand is not those brands or up to those brand’s standards. That’s not a knock on your brand. You’re just not Starbucks.

[00:20:45] Dan: This falls under the category of, you know, let’s just be brutally honest; be brutally honest. Don’t be delusional about how loyal people are to you. Do not be delusional that you are a Starbucks or an emerging Starbucks. I mean, you’re somewhere in your life cycle. Be honest where you are in your life cycle and build your online environment based on that.

[00:21:18] Adam: That’s it.

[00:21:19] Dan: That’s it.

[00:21:20] Adam: Know your customer.

[00:21:21] Dan: Yes.

[00:21:22] Adam: And know how much your customer loves you. Know what the gravitational pull had became your brand as a star and people coming in. Yes, they come in once every three months? Not enough.

[00:21:33] Dan: Right.

[00:21:34] Adam: I don’t need your app and what we’ve found time and time again, the app is not a cure-all for the traffic world or your frequency was. If you have traffic, the app is an accelerant to loyalty.

[00:21:46] Dan: No research we ever done has said “I make a decision to eat at an establishment based on whether they have an app or not.”

[00:21:57] Adam: Right. That what’s worst that we do have data that says “I’ve open a terrible app and therefore I don’t go.”

[00:22:05] Dan: Boom.

[00:22:07] Adam: Right?

[00:22:08] Dan: Right? So go down chase– go down that rabbit hole and find yourself and find yourself actually suffering from your investment decision.

[00:22:17] Adam: Right. Don’t do it wrong. Do it right.

[00:22:20] Dan: Wait.

[00:22:21] Adam: Uh oh.

[00:22:22] Dan: Wait.

[00:22:23] Adam: Oh oh. This is serious.

[00:22:25] Dan: We should not. You should not.

[00:22:31] Adam: What should not?

[00:22:32] Dan: Build an app. Stop, stop and we could end the podcast–

[00:22:39] Adam: Oh I know, I know exactly where you are going.

[00:22:42] Dan: Adam found this unbelievable stat that I’m probably not gonna do justice–

[00:22:47] Adam: No, go ahead. I have a link that will be in the show notes. It’s in the article.

[00:22:52] Dan: This fact. This empirical fact not my opinion–

[00:22:58] Adam: It’s true for the second year in row. I know what you’re saying and I have data that shows ’15 and ’16 history.

[00:23:02] Dan: People are downloading apps.

[00:23:05] Adam: Yes. Now it’s comScore, in your mobile app research, found. There’s a segment of people who claimed to have downloaded zero apps per month. Zero. Okay.

[00:23:19] Dan: I’m sorry, what was the number?

[00:23:21] Adam: It was zero and by the way that is over 50% of the respondents of their survey. It’s not a small sliver anymore. So they found a significant amount in 2015 version. I do this every year, this mobile app study. In ’16, the ’16 study was released in September, duplicated and higher number. I am a living proof of this data. I think you’re a living proof to this. The only apps I download are new calendars which I download and delete like a crazy person because they’re not good enough and games. I download game here and there and I’m legitimately down to twelve apps on my phone.

[00:24:01] Dan: Well, my friend. I think this is an important fact. I don’t think a lot of people know this. I’m not as young as you think.

[00:24:09] Adam: [laugh] You sound youthful.

[00:24:12] Dan: I do, I do. I do that well. I thank that youthfulness well.

[00:24:16] Adam: No crow’s feet.

[00:24:18] Dan: Yes, oh God bless you and obviously we’re not in the same room.


[00:24:24] Dan: But I don’t download apps that I never have and I probably never will because they know annoy me and I want a pristine mobile responsive experience. That’s what I want. That’s all I want. I don’t, you know what, if you have an app, God bless you, there’s a pop– there’s a population that wants them, maybe. But there’s a population of relatively well-to-do people with discretionary income that need a either QSR, the fast casual, and casual dining and fine dining and everything in between depending on circumstance that just wants a beautiful responsive experience. So if you’re gonna spend money, start the responsive experience.

[00:25:20] Adam: That’s actually not a friendly request. That is a mandatory. The mobile app, the mobile web is your friend. The mobile web has come a long way. Standards for the mobile web have evolved and they are awesome. There are some limitations as a brand, what you get from a user from the mobile web so there’s no loyalty number that can put in. It’s hard to cookie and it’s hard to track people, behavior, time but honestly, for most people that are experimenting at finding their brand thru google maps or thru proximity marketing, that’s the golden goose. They’re not going to download an app to try you for the first time but they will go to the mobile website and scroll it and thumb it once or twice, you know, see what’s happening. You might not collect all the data but if you’re on the fence, if you’re in pre-app world, I cannot stress strongly now. You may optimize your mobile site first and use it as a proof of concept for your app and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

[00:26:25] Dan: And by the way Adam, as you know I have a, praise God, a soon to be 22-year old son who’s going to be graduating in college in 8 weeks.

[00:26:37] Adam: [laugh] Only five more years of bills, I’m sure.

[00:26:39] Dan: [laugh] Or so, I’ve been told. But he might have the conversation about app downloads and you know, this is a kid who eats out a lot. He’s a college student. They cook at home for experiences with their mates and stuff like that but fundamentally, they’re out eating in typically QSR fast casual and so forth and you know, he doesn’t even have an app at his university. He does not use the app that his university provides.

[00:27:15] Adam: What, like the food court? Like the dining service?

[00:27:18] Dan: Yes. He just, he’s got his account, well, my account-

[00:27:22] Adam: Yes, right. [laugh]

[00:27:23] Dan: -connected to his box. They’re called something box and he presses the button because–

[00:27:32] Adam: – the manual card swipe.

[00:27:33] Dan: Yes. It’s over. I mean, he puts 20 bucks there and I think part of that out of respect to me, he doesn’t want put my abuse of the situation but at the same time my point simply is that, you’ve got the 50 something and the 20 something happens– from a similar behavior so I think, and this will be a whole another– this goes to our life stages theory that “You know what? Where are we in our life? What do we do and what are our habits?

[00:28:06] Adam: No, and if you’d read the book Hooked, there’s a gamification aspect to it. That there’s the Starbucks model where, there’s a gamification thing makes me want to use that app and makes me want to spend that money and then, it doesn’t make me want to do that. That McDonalds app, I don’t know, I don’t get any pleasure out of using the app versus payment with a credit card. I’ll just pay with the card. It’s taking up data.

[00:28:36] Dan: One of the thing I think that’s starting to really creep in all of this, you know I haven’t even talked about this much something I’ve been thinking lot though is, security. We haven’t talked about security in a long time and I got to be honest with you. I think security is going to probably be a huge impediment going forward and the whole app world or just even how we interact on the web with our devices.

[00:29:10] Adam: I think you’re right. I think we’re going to see a– I’m so bummed out by this, I think we’re going to see an avalanche.

[00:29:20] Dan: I’m sorry. [laugh]

[00:29:21] Adam: No. You hit me bad.

[00:29:23] Dan: They’ve been downer Dan.

[00:29:26] Adam: It’s funny. Independently, people have been having the same conversation in mind. I think what’s happening in the world, we are going to see an avalanche of ID thefts and data breaches in the whole– Oh, all my Starbucks points are gone and Uber’s. My Uber accounts been used in Moscow’s 60 times before I wake up. I think that’s going to happen if people are going to retreat from apps. Security–

[00:29:53] Dan: We’re on the southern, let’s go. Let’s retreat back to analog right now and we’ll be on the cutting edge.

[00:29:59] Adam: No, I’m gong to pay in Wampa.

[00:30:00] Dan: In what?

[00:30:00] Adam: In Wampa. I think the last thing– we’re at 30 minutes now which is longer than usual and honestly-

[00:30:09] Dan: I apologize.

[00:30:10] Adam: No, this is such a good topic, we could talk about this all day but for me the most important thing for brands to understand and brands really do not always understand this. If you and because I want to be sensitive to what it’s like to be inside a brand which we know. From the marketing side, you have a eight LTOs a year, 20 LTOs a year, whatever they are and you struggle to figure how we’re going to market each of those LTOs. From a technology standpoint you say, “Okay now there’s the period 14 LTOs got to make it. I have to change over all the technology requirements. Everything that has to happen in order to get a POS system and website and everything that works up and down and we’re going to get that all works right, have you witnessed this before?

[00:30:59] Dan: Always.

[00:31:00] Adam: Okay. Well, rolling out an app is twice that because maybe more, when you create an app, you are creating a product that is almost as big as your brand. If you’re not prepared to market the hell out of that thing, you almost like your brand. I’m comparing it to an LTO which should give those brands shivers compared to your brand. It’s that important. If you’re not prepared to roll out a marketing strategy, how are you going to get that app out there, awareness of the app, you’re going to need the awareness of that app up, like 80% of the awareness of your brand. You have to get people downloading. You have to have to have a cross preacquisition. All of with this something in food marketing, restaurant marketing. This is serious stuff. You are now competing with Uber. You’re competing with Netflix. This is ditch a sword.

[00:31:56] Dan: That is if you take anything away from this conversation today, it’s what Adam is talking about. We sit around the clients all the time and we here these conversations, “We need a nap or we don’t want an app.” whatever the case may be but regardless the ecosystem around what you do is as important as that strategic decision you make of should or shouldn’t, regardless. If you decide not to, you still have a marketing and maintenance obligation. If you decide you have a whole another responsibility to understand how to make that effective because it comes down to our life. Spend the time, that’s our point. That’s what we try to preach to the wonderful people who choose to work with us but stay focused. It’s not about should or shouldn’t. It’s about if we do, what are the implications? If we don’t, what are the implications? And march through all that and then if you go in regardless should or shouldn’t, go all in. Don’t question your decision, don’t start backtracking, blaming and checking just go all in and be that thing.

[00:33:30] Adam: Yes, let’s wrap it up with that idea that, listen everybody is going to have a mobile app at some point. We’ve laid out some challenges. To be honest with you, we have an outline that’s twice as long as what we’ve covered, maybe we’ll do sequel through this episode in coming weeks. You’re going to do it, right? Every brand is going to have one. Everybody brand needs one. People are expecting it. People are looking for an app but what we’re saying is, go in with your eyes open. Look realistically, everybody wants to say Domino’s, Chick-fila, Starbucks, Kununurra, right? Those are the good case studies but then when it comes to time to make their app, they look at the garbage that’s in our categories instead of comparing themselves to that.

[00:34:18] Dan: Bingo.

[00:34:19] Adam: You’re in competition with Amazon at that point. You’re in competition with Apple. When you have an app that has an icon on my home-screen, when I thumb that thing, it better be worth my time as a consumer when I open it. That’s not me, that’s the entitled consumer that honestly it’s spoiled by friction with timers and ones everything need to be flawless if that’s perfect.

[00:34:45] Dan: Yes. Listen good luck, be assertive. Make a decision, live with it, move forward. Thanks for listening. We really appreciate all the comments everybody’s been sharing. Share some more and challenges as Adam always likes to say, don’t hesitate to tell us how handsome we are, we like that too-

[00:35:07] Adam: We’re gorgeous.

[00:35:10] Dan: -and eat well.

[00:35:11] Adam: Thanks guys.

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Read these companion articles, too: The Pros. The Cons.

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